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Gallup tracking shows Santorum surging, Gingrich stalling

February 09, 2012|By Paul West
  • Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum waves to supporters at Fairview Farms in Plano, Texas. He is tied for second place with Newt Gingrich in a recent Gallup poll.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum waves to supporters… (Stewart F. House / Fort Worth…)

Reporting from Washington — Rick Santorum’s sweep of contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri this week has sent his popularity soaring in the latest national opinion polling by Gallup.

Gallup’s daily tracking poll now has him tied with a fading Newt Gingrich for second place -- and those lines will almost certainly cross in Friday’s poll release. 

Mitt Romney is still the national leader, with 36% support from Republican voters. Santorum and Gingrich are at 20% each. Ron Paul trails with 11%.

Last week, just after losing to Romney in the Florida primary, Gingrich was at 26% in Gallup’s polling and Santorum was at 16%. 

The tracking numbers released Thursday afternoon showed Santorum gaining three points since Wednesday.  But the latest numbers are still largely composed of polling conducted before his triple victory.  Once the old numbers are dropped out and the new ones are fully cranked into the mix, expect the former Pennsylvania senator to emerge as the clear runner-up to Romney.

One item to watch will be how far Gingrich’s numbers fall, and where the latest bottom is for the former House speaker. Last month, before his lone primary victory — in South Carolina — he was at 15% in the Gallup track. His current slide is likely to test that bottom.

Of course, Gingrich has been down before in this campaign and come back. But he’s got no obvious opportunities to rebound before March 6, when his former home state of Georgia and 10 other states select delegates.

paul.west@latimes.com

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